lighting diary #1 / 22 March, 2010 [click for previous image: the state of the union #2]
lighting diary #1 / 22 March, 2010 [click for next image: the structure of light]
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Title • lighting diary #1

As I mentioned when I posted my previous entry, my shot of the merged flags marks a transition between one stage in my photography and the next: one that will shift the nature of at least some of the shots that I post here. In essence, the change is a simple one: rather than relying on natural light, or the haphazard and often ill-conceived application of off-camera lighting, I'm going to be spending a lot more time working on how to use light to create technically competent and aesthetically interesting images.

My overall aim is a simple one: 12 months from now I'd like to in the position where either David Hobby or Zack Arias email me to say "hey, that's cool – how did you do that?" ;) It's not going to happen – I'm sure that both of them are more than capable of reverse-engineering even the most complex of one of Joe McNally's epic set-ups – but I'd rather aim high, and not get there, than meet an easily achievable goal that doesn't require a great deal of effort.

So, to start the ball rolling, here's a shot of Harmony that was lit by a combination of window light (to the right) and a 41" shoot-through/translucent umbrella: placed three feet away and 45° to the left, about one foot above my daughter's eye-line. The light source was a Canon 580 EX II set to 1/4 power.

It's a very simple start, and one that echoes a lot of my natural light shots (flat, uniform lighting), but it's definitely a step along the road: not least because I now know that the catchlight from a shoot-through umbrella at close range isn't especially attractive ;)

I should also add that I'll be posting the originals of each of these shots. 12 months from now I'd like to think that there won't be a great deal of difference between the version I post and the one that I shoot. For the time being though I suspect that most will need some additional work.


focal length
shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
image quality
RAW converter
11.15am on 18/3/10
Canon 5D Mark II
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM
580 EX II (1/4 power)
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